Playbow gets infinite stars!!!!
I have a very skittish 55lb Australian Shepherd (Ori) and I have always struggled with boarding him. He loves to play with other dogs and is overall very friendly, but gets severe separation anxiety and it doesn't help that he's very wary of new people and terrified of loud sounds. Earlier this year, I tried taking him to daycare at Wag Hotels and unfortunately it became worse. He was placed in a large room with up to 20 other dogs and 1 trainer. They had a live cam, so I would watch him pace around ALL day nonstop, and he would then come home wired and stressed from being so anxious all day. There were a few days where another dog would try to hump him for HOURS and the trainer wouldn't even notice until I called and asked them to please intervene. Eventually, I pulled him out of Wag Hotels after about a month and trained him to be able to stay home while I worked.
I originally heard about Playbow from friends at the dog park and they always said how much they liked taking their dogs there. I was going away for vacation for the week of 4th of July, and I reached out in mid June to see if I could book him for those nights. The first thing that really stood out for me was their safety assessment test. Most daycare/boarding places that I've checked out really don't evaluate your dog and just go off based on what you describe on their paperwork. Playbow went the extra mile to make sure that everything was a good fit. They gave me honest feedback and discussed his strengths and weaknesses. It was what I expected would happen - he was very anxious and paced around instead of interacting with other dogs. I was bummed but they told me to bring him back for the next few weeks to daycare to give him a chance to warm up. I thought we would get turned down right away, but I am so grateful that they were willing to work with him and help him acclimate.
The first few daycare drop offs were really sad - he would fight back and try to run after me while crying. By the second week, he didn't even care that I left and happily greeted the staff. It went from heartbreaking to heartwarming in a matter of a week. I watched his live cam snippets whenever I got the chance, so I could see his progress. I saw how the trainers interacted with their smaller playgroups, instead of just standing around. Everyone was so involved and I could tell that they actually cared about the dogs that stayed there. The dogs even get breaks from playtime. They're all so patient and so understanding. By the time he got dropped off for boarding, he was actually excited to go!
I was such a helicopter mom, so special shout-out to Isabelle because she answered my endless list of questions LITERALLY within minutes!!! Seriously, she went above and beyond to give me updates and answer every concern even though I was emailing her during the holiday. I was able to relax and enjoy my vacation knowing that Ori was on his own vacation too.
All in all, I HIGHLY recommend Playbow for both boarding and daycare needs. I honestly thought Ori was a lost cause when it came to boarding, and they basically became his extended family. I don't think it's possible to find another place that is passionate and attentive to what your dog needs.